Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (The Canadian Press)

Premiers couldn’t agree on condemning systemic racism in declaration: Trudeau

Talk is cheap and it’s time to do things about racism, says Doug Ford

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says a first ministers’ declaration condemning racism didn’t mention systemic discrimination because not all the premiers would agree.

The statement released Thursday says firmly that all 14 first ministers oppose racism and will drive the governments they lead to fight it.

“Recognizing that one of the strengths of Canada is its diversity, first ministers condemn all forms of racism, discrimination, intolerance, and bigotry,” it says in part.

“First ministers are determined to combat it — including anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, and anti-Asian racism and hate, as well as anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Hate has no place in Canada and will not be tolerated.”

But the statement doesn’t talk about more subtle forms of discrimination, in which members of some groups are denied opportunities because of the way systems or programs are designed, without overt expressions of bigotry.

“There was not consensus on using the phrase ‘systemic discrimination’ or ‘systemic racism,’” Trudeau said Friday. “I have been crystal clear that the federal government recognizes it in order to be able to better address it.”

Trudeau wouldn’t say which premiers weren’t on board.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Friday that he was.

“First of all, I agree, there is systemic racism,” he said in his own news conference.

“I guess the biggest concern about the letter, with all the premiers, is a letter is one thing. We all acknowledge it, and I think we’ve all acknowledged it in our own provinces, and three to four weeks later we’re putting this letter out. We want action, and I know the prime minister wants action, too, but all the premiers are saying, ‘Enough of the talking. Let’s start getting action.’”

Talk is cheap, he said, and it’s time to do things about racism.

Public officials such as RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki and Quebec Premier Francois Legault have said publicly that they want to root out racism but have rejected the idea that there are discriminatory features inherent to their institutions.

Lucki later reversed herself with a written statement that there is indeed systemic discrimination in the Mounties, though she has had difficulty citing examples.

The national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls offered several instances in its purview a year ago, including the force’s poor data on Indigenous homicide victims, gaps in dispatching in remote areas, a lack of cultural awareness among officers assigned to Inuit communities and numerous instances of Indigenous women’s reports of crimes not being taken seriously.

Legault, though he set up an anti-racism task force for Quebec earlier this month, has stuck to acknowledging that there are racists in Quebec but no deeper racist structures.

“My definition of systemic racism is that there’s a system in Quebec of racism and I don’t think there’s a system,” he said at the announcement of the task force.

Trudeau said he thinks the gap in the first ministers’ statement indicates how much work needs to be done to fight systemic racism.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Canada Day

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Haitian foster children arrive in Nelson after months-long lobbying effort

Marie-Paule Brisson and Sebastien De Marre have parented girls age 12 and 8 since they were babies

Trail RCMP, coroner, investigating fisherman’s sudden death

The Maple Ridge man, in his 50s, died while fishing on a bridge near Trail

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

Large police presence in Castlegar on July 9 involved man peeing on street

Three police officers responded to the incident near the Black Rooster Pub at around 1:30 p.m.

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

BREAKING: Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

Most Read